On December 8th, members witnessed a very powerful message from local Salvation Army Captain, Ron Stobie. Ron thanked members for the boxes of food provided over recent weeks and then went on to paint a concerning picture of the current needs of the poor and the declining number of volunteers to do something about the problem in our Central Goldfields area. See "Read more..." for more information and pictures.
Ron asserted that whilst many people think that the Covid crisis is over now, the evidence shows that it isn't. People are now beginning to realize that we will have to learn to live with Covid and the other diseases and mental conditions that are taking hold of people. Experts now realize that the requirements for physical isolation during Covid have had and will continue to have a profound impact of human beings of the world. In some instances, these impacts have been relatively positive, and they have brought forward changes in living and working patterns that had actually commenced before the Covid pandemic. When people started working from home, many found that they preferred that approach which allowed them more time with their partners and children. Many relationships actually improved during Covid. The new approaches assisted many workers to re-assess their work/ life balance and a significant number want to spend more time with their family, and they actually want to work less than they did before. This has also had an impact on the volunteer work they might have done previously, and they no longer want to spend that time away from family. Ron believes that volunteer organizations are going to suffer as a result, and volunteer numbers are not likely to return to their former levels. The numbers are starting to return to a limited extent in places like Bendigo and Castlemaine, but in Maryborough, it is extremely difficult to get people to volunteer again. Interestingly, as a Christian pastor, Ron has discovered that since Covid, people are now more willing to talk about spiritual issues and "forces out there" than before the pandemic. People don't want to embrace all the requirements of a "religion", but they are more interested in issues about meaning and purpose in life. Ron was asked what can be done about the current "poor" in our community and said that whilst there still aren't all that many people sleeping on the streets, there are an increasing number of "couch surfers" who have no regular place to call "home". How the community is to deal with this problem is a huge challenge. There are actually enough "places" in the Maryborough township where people could go to sleep under cover at night, get a shower and have a meal, but the trouble is the "red tape" involved in opening up and using those places. Outside of Maryborough is a bigger problem. In the end, service organizations, churches and government departments need to keep monitoring the situation and talking to each other to bring about the particular solutions required by each wave of change. Pictured above is President Garry presenting Ron with a "4 Way Test" plaque, although he said, "Ron is already doing all this". Then someone quipped that Jesus would make a good Rotarian, and Ron retorted that Jesus probably founded Rotary - which isn't all that far from the truth.